NASCAR Richmond 2015 turned explosive when two members of Richard Childress Racing and a crew member with driver Eric Mcclure’s racing team were injured when fuel caught fire, engulfing members of RCR in a huge flame.
NASCAR issued a statement that the three injured men were RCR pit crew members Anthony O’Brien and Josh Whittman, and McClure team member Clifford Turner.
Brendan Gaughan, driver for Richard Childress Racing, pulled in for a mid-race pit stop on Lap 108 when the high-octane fuel ignited at the rear of his car, sending Whittman and O’Brien scrambling. O’Brien was changing the rear right tire and Whittman was re-fueling the No. 62 RCR Chevrolet when the fuel caught fire.
O’Brien was able to get away from the flames and was awake and alert after the fire, giving his team a thumbs up sign to show he was okay. All NASCAR crew members wear fireproof suits and helmets, although O’Brien can be seen on the video without his fireproof suit and helmet after being surrounded by flames.
“We’re not sure what happened yet,” Childress said. “It looks like a piece of the fuel can came off. Until we look into it and know all the facts, it’s hard to say.” Childress said he plans to review the incident with NASCAR.
Whittman, O’Brien, and Turner were transported to the Richmond International Raceway hospital with unspecified injuries.
NASCAR safety workers were immediately on the scene to extinguish the impressive fire. Turner and Whittman were treated and released from the Richmond hospital, but O’Brien remained hospitalized Saturday. RCR said he was in good condition.
“We’ll go back to Concord and look at all the parts and pieces and try to recreate what happened,” stated NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp, according to USA Today. “We’re in the initial stages of looking at all that.”
The NASCAR Research and Development Center is in Concord, North Carolina.
Fans are still reeling from the loss of beloved NASCAR sportscaster Steve Byrnes, who recently lost his two-year battle with cancer. His presence is missed at NASCAR Richmond 2015.
Gaughan still completed the race in his No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, although he pulled out of the pit stop with his car still in flames. The video and television replays show at least one member of RCR seemingly engulfed in flames on the Richmond International Speedway.
NASCAR Richmond 2015 was postponed Saturday due to rain. The Toyota Owners 400 was originally supposed to run Saturday night, but the ninth race of the series is expected to resume in Richmond Sunday afternoon on FOX at 1 p.m ET. NASCAR Richmond 2015 is also available online and on mobile devices using Fox Sports Go.
[Image credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport]